Mind Your Words
We are on vacation in a place that is typically much warmer and sunnier than our home state.
And it is snowing.
What came to your mind when I mentioned that?
(“Ugh, I’m so sorry…” or perhaps “Oooh, how wonderful!” or maybe just “ok….thanks for sharing….wish I was on vacation too.”)
When I told our house-sitter that information, he replied with the “I’m sorry” version. I followed up with, “Thanks - and it is SO pretty!”.
Yes - we had been hoping for warm sunshine and long, dry-weather hiking. But (and) this is the weather that have been given.
How we create this vacation - this day, the next few hours, our entire memories of this week - is up to how we mind our words.
“Minding your words” is being aware of the words you are using to form your thoughts, and being aware of the thoughts that form your actions.
In the case of “snow”, we each have some experience of that word. You might love it, you might hate it, you might love it at some times but feel totally done with it right now. You might have positive memories associated with sledding and forts, or negative memories of trudging through slushy streets on your way to the bus or work.
In the split second that I mention snow, unconsciously all of those associations will rush to that word like magnets.
You’ll also have other association-laden words that you are processing in the above phrase, such as “vacation”.
Everything that comes to mind (even outside of your conscious awareness) influences how you interpret my factual statement, what thoughts come to mind immediately after, and how you respond.
And how you respond influences my response. And so on.
Now, if you are minding your words, you might recognize that while you see snow as the devil’s curse right now, I might be longing for it.
In the pause between my statement and your response, that mindfulness might lead you to respond with, “wow - I know that was unexpected. What do you think of all of that snow?!” This isn’t a judgment on the fact; rather, an opening to learn more about my experiences and for me to eventually learn about yours.
I know, I know….95% of the time, this type of mindfulness seems nearly impossible in our modern-day world.
Who has time and emotional capacity to consider each and every word that someone is using, your own associations with those words, and to non-judgmentally respond with curiosity?
But just like even one step taken on a walk that might lead to another walk or a bit more physical activity in your day is better than no step taken,
Even one moment of minding your words might lead to a more productive conversation that will color your day’s interactions with clarity and less stress.
I’m heading back out with my family now, into the snow.
In honor of this practice, and for the sake of shaping this day and our vacation into something that feels more positive than negative, I’ll be minding my words and each step I take in this white wonderland.
May you find a bit of the same adventure today.